#FlashbackFriday: Pia Cayetano reminisces days with UP Lady Maroons

Barry Viloria on Mar 17, 2016 06:51 PM
#FlashbackFriday: Pia Cayetano reminisces Lady Maroon days
The former captain and UAAP champion gets nostalgic about her student-athlete life: I miss it! (Photos by Vyn Radovan)

On a Wednesday evening, Senator Pia Cayetano finds herself out of her Pasay office and is instead standing over the bleachers inside the FIlOil Flying V Center in San Juan. Her right fist is punching the air and her lips are mouthing her Alma Mater’s anthem, “UP Naming Mahal.” She looks rather solemn—how else would one croon to the song? The politician-athlete has just watched the UP Lady Maroons fall to the DLSU Lady Spikers after four observably exciting sets (the Diliman dudettes owned the first set before succumbing to their Taft rivals).

Within minutes, Cayetano exits the bleachers and into the dugout halls. She is sporting back her charming smile.

“It’s been a while,” she begins. “This is the first women’s volleyball game I’ve watched this season. I’ve been following the progress of UP over Twitter, actually—not even live!”

Cayetano has always been active in terms of supporting the varsity teams of UP, having been part of one back in the day. While many are familiar with her involvement in triathlon now, some might not be that aware of her being a collegiate volleyball player then. She joined the UP Lady Maroons at 16, in 1982-83 when they won the championship. (It was the school’s eighth title that has yet to be succeeded.) The Economics major then became the captain of the squad at 18.

“We were the last champions of UP in women’s volleyball. You know what, ‘di pa nga uso nun to remember what season was which, eh,” she laughs, adding that she remains a fan of the UAAP, alongside her brother Lino and his wife Fille Cainglet, both volleyball alumni of UP and Ateneo, respectively.

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“But they played better than we did,” the former national athlete then refers to this season’s squad. “It’s a pleasure to see them play. They’re extremely talented and I think they can still do better—like, their skill level is right there on top, they just have to get their game together more.”

Cayetano certainly has a point, given UP’s top three ranking in the women’s event as of the moment. At 6-4, the Maroons are two wins behind powerhouses Ateneo and La Salle, and is only a game ahead of NU, FEU, and UST.

“I can honestly they’ve upped their game. I’m just getting to know them, but I can’t say I have a favorite yet. The team is strong. It’s wonderful watching them—they’re all good,” she goes on.

Nearing her 50th birthday, more than a good three decades after her collegiate career, Cayetano certainly misses volleyball.

“Of course! ‘Cause I’m still an athlete. It’s not something I’ve left. I just don’t play volleyball anymore. I compete regularly in triathlons, but I do miss volleyball.”

“Everybody knows that volleyball is my first love.”

Remember when she fought the UAAP Residency Rule? Cayetano is an advocate of sports and the youth sector in the Senate, apart from women’s rights, environmental education, and welfare of the elderly and the disabled. That's why, for the moment, she is nothing but ecstatic about how women’s volleyball has grown in the country.

“I’m really happy (about the growth). It’s a sport I believe Filipinos find difficult to excel in because of the height (factor), but here people love it. And other than basketball, I’m glad there are other sports that are gaining attention.”

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